CARY, N.C. (May 16, 2018) – North Carolina FC opened Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action in fine form, defeating Lansdowne Bhoys 3-0 Wednesday night in the second round of the competition at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Connor Tobin, who made his season debut and donned the captain’s armband, Marios Lomis and Bernhard Luxbacher each scored in the win.
With the victory, NCFC will host the Ocean City Nor’easters in third-round action on Tuesday, May 22, at 7 p.m.
“Delighted with the result, a clean sheet,” NCFC head coach Colin Clarke said. “Got some minutes in to some younger kids at times. Overall, a pretty professional performance. It was good.”
It was a dream start for NCFC and Tobin. In just the second minute of action, a Kyle Bekker corner kick fell to Tobin, whose first touch of the season was a header that easily found the back of the net. Immediately following the score, an emotional Tobin celebrated his return, and the goal that came with it with the Oak City Supporters.
Playing full of confidence after taking an early lead, NCFC owned the bulk of the scoring chances in the first half and nearly doubled the advantage in the 26th minute when midfielder Dre Fortune’s strike hit the crossbar.
Thirteen minutes later, Luxbacher led a two-on-one break and set up Lomis, whose effort was turned away by Lansdowne goalkeeper Abdoukarim Danso.
However, Lomis couldn’t be denied in the 44th minute. A quick throw-in by midfielder Austin da Luz made its way to Fortune, who sprinted up the right flank before crossing to Lomis, who scored his second goal of the season from just a few yards out.
NCFC preserved the shutout with a clean and organized defensive effort in the second half. Lansdowne’s best scoring opportunity after the halftime break came in the 70th minute when striker Ovan Oakley cut inside at the top of the 18-yard box and released a right-footed shot, which Tobin was able to block.
Luxbacher all but sealed the victory with a 74th minute goal, his first for NCFC. Able to track down a lofted ball into the box sent in by Bekker, Luxbacher rounded Lansdowne’s Danso and dribbled the ball into the net.
NCFC returns to league action on Saturday when it travels to face FC Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. ET. The matchup will the first ever between the two clubs. FC Cincinnati is tied for the lead in the USL’s Eastern Conference with 17 points through nine matches (5W-2L-2D).
Lomis’ goal came at a critical juncture for NCFC. After dominating the majority of the first half, NCFC only had one goal to show for it. But Lomis’ deft finish gave NCFC a bit more breathing room and was also a mental blow to a Lansdowne team that nearly went into the locker room down by just one goal.
Tobin’s second-minute goal was NCFC’s earliest to start a game since Tyler Engel scored in the first minute against the Atlanta Silverbacks on September 19, 2015.
They Said It:
“It’s like being a rookie all over again. I was out for so long.” – Connor Tobin on making his season debut.
– NCFC improved to 20-10 all time in the Open Cup.
– Kyle Bekker has recorded consecutive two-assist performances.
– Connor Tobin has now scored in the Open Cup two years in a row.
– Goalkeeper Austin Guerrero and midfielder Bernhard Luxbacher each started for the first time this season.
– Midfielders Cameron Steele and Nelson Blanco each made their professional debuts when they entered as substitutes in the 79th minute. Steele, a Clayton native, played at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh and collegiately at NC State and Penn State.
– Abdoukarim Danso, the brother of NCFC center back Futty Danso, started in goal for Lansdowne.
NCFC (4-5-1): Austin Guerrero; Aaron Guillen; Connor Tobin ©; Futty Danso; DJ Taylor; Austin da Luz (Peabo Doue, 79’); Kyle Bekker (Cameron Steele, 80’); Dre Fortune; Graham Smith (Nelson Blanco, 79’); Bernhard Luxbacher; Marios Lomis
Subs not used: Alex Tambakis; Michael Harrington; Steven Miller; Daniel Rios
LAN (4-2-2): Abdoukarim Danso; Jean Voltaire; Craig Purcell; Sean Kelly ©; Shane Campbell (Martin Dadaj, 67’); Jannik Lobe (Joseph Lopez, 61’); Daryl Kavanaugh; Michael Holzer; Patrick McCann; Ovan Oakley; Mamadou Guirassy (Andrew Sousa, 67’)
Subs not used: --
NCFC: Connor Tobin (Kyle Bekker, 2’), Marios Lomis (Dre Fortune, 44’) Bernhard Luxbacher (Kyle Bekker, 74’)
NCFC: Graham Smith 38’, Austin da Luz 78’